D.C. Stover: The Man Behind the Stover Engine Works

D.C. Stover, founder of the Stover Engine Works, and his legacy in Freeport, Ill.

| February/March 2010

Daniel Carroll Stover died of heart failure in Freeport, Ill., on Jan. 17, 1908.

At the time of his death, the local papers considered him the wealthiest man in Freeport. We're not here to cover the story of Stover's rise from poverty to a world-class industrialist. That story has been published in Gas Engine Magazine in previous articles by C.H. Wendel (History of the Stover Engine Works, May 1981) and by this author (Brilliant Tradition, February 2006). Using hindsight, we do want to try to figure out the legacy he left behind.

Preparing for the inevitable

D.C. Stover knew he was dying and had time to put things in order. Many of his important accomplishments and final actions were covered in no less than 66 obituaries and newspaper articles printed all over the United States. It's probable that obituaries were also written in foreign countries. He was famous in his time. It's very likely he either wrote his own obituary or was aware of the information that was going to be released when he died. His wife had died a few months before and his health went downhill quickly after her death. So the question is, what did he do to perpetuate his fame and, indirectly, his infamy?

We can break the answer into two categories: the things he did to overtly sustain his fame and the things he did to help us remember him.

The photos found in the photo gallery show his primary effort at immortality. The beautiful monolith in the photographs is the tallest monument in the Freeport City Cemetery. To this day, it still looks brand new.

A year before his death, Stover joined the Baptist Church and gave them money. A little insurance policy, perhaps?